Mar 31, 2009

Security stops gold theft at lab

By CAROL A. CLARK, The Los Alamos Monitor

The first of eight layers of security mechanisms in place at the Plutonium Facility at Technical Area 55 stopped an alleged thief from exiting Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The man has reportedly worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory for more than 20 years and, according to reports, recently tried to take gold out of the plutonium facility undetected.

He was reportedly caught carrying an estimated $2,000 worth of the gold shavings in a plastic sandwich bag concealed inside his clenched fist.

Gold is currently trading at more than $917 per Troy ounce.

The attempted theft reportedly occurred early last week and the case was turned over to the FBI on Wednesday for further investigation.

The gold is used to seal cracks in platinum-lined containers used for plutonium-related work, according to information provided to the Monitor.

LANL spokesman Kevin Roark confirmed in a statement this morning that the employee attempted to remove two ounces of gold contaminated with a “small amount of radioactive material” last week.

“The gold was detected by a radiation monitor as the employee attempted to leave an internal work area … at the lab,” Roark said. “The employee’s security clearance has been suspended ... a full investigation by the laboratory, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the FBI is underway.”

Roark added that a complete inventory of precious metals used at the laboratory also is underway as a precaution.

Most of TA-55 is situated inside a restricted area surrounded by a double security fence.

The main complex has five connected buildings.

To meet the varied needs of research and development and plutonium-processing programs at LANL, TA-55 provides chemical and metallurgical processes for recovering, purifying, and converting plutonium and other actinides into many compounds and forms.

Additional capabilities include the means to safely and securely ship, receive, handle, and store nuclear materials, as well as manage the wastes and residues produced by TA-55 operations. A core capability is basic and applied research in plutonium and actinide chemistry.

Core competencies are maintained in the Plutonium Facility for each type of plutonium-processing activity. Extensive plutonium recovery processes are maintained, as well as the ability to convert the recovered material to plutonium metal.

A separate portion of the facility is dedicated to fabricating ceramic-based reactor fuels and to processing Pu-238 used to produce radioisotope heat sources.

In addition, analytical capabilities, materials control and accountability techniques, and a substantial R&D base are available to support these core capabilities.


Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her blog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Duh.

That's the kind of LANL employee that gives LANL employees a bad name.

Kind of like John Mitchell.

Except that this dufus got caught.

Anonymous said...

Great. Now we at LLNL will have to start accounting for gold as though it was SNM. Thank again to our friends at LANL....

Anonymous said...

Imagine if he had sold the gold. There could have been people walking around wearing hot wedding bands wondering what was wrong with their finger.

Anonymous said...

One of the Best and Brightess?

Anonymous said...

9:24 pm: "Great. Now we at LLNL will have to start accounting for gold as though it was SNM. Thank again to our friends at LANL...."

Guess again, asshole. Obviously you don't work at any DOE lab, or you would know that for decades gold, as well as other "precious metals" (Ag, Pt, etc.) have been, until recently, controlled more closely than plutonium. Try again with your rabble rousing.

Anonymous said...

9:12 pm "Kind of like John Mitchell."

Yeah, yeah. Lots of smoke, no fire. Any confirmable details you'd like to share about Mitchell? Hint: there aren't any. It didn't happen. Get a life.

Anonymous said...

Oh shut up 10:54 PM, just like the radioactive germanium release that "that never happened" from the TA-48/RC-1 hotcells. Yeah, all those labs that got shut down with yellow "Do not enter" tape was just a figment of everyone's imagination.

Anonymous said...

What John Mitchell are we talking about? The former AG?

Anonymous said...

9:12 pm "Kind of like John Mitchell."

Yeah, yeah. Lots of smoke, no fire. Any confirmable details you'd like to share about Mitchell? Hint: there aren't any. It didn't happen. Get a life.


Suuure, he suddenly remembered that he had a family and then resigned - happens all the time.

Anonymous said...

Former LANL Deputy Director John Mitchell.

From a post on the previous "LANL, The Corporate Story" blog:

"Limited Life Corporation
An Anonymous reader asks: "Could the LLC become to mean Limited Life Corporation?"

My canine intuition tells me that if the rumors indicating John Mitchell, that late but not lamented former Deputy Director of LANL did indeed get caught en flagrante delicto with classified material on his personal PC, then LANS, LLC stands a better than average chance at quickly becoming the latest former contractor of LANL. Perhaps the forthcoming set of hearings on LANL to be held by Congressmen Dingell and Stupak will shed light on this."

Anonymous said...

9:24 pm: "Great. Now we at LLNL will have to start accounting for gold as though it was SNM. Thank again to our friends at LANL...."

Guess again, asshole. Obviously you don't work at any DOE lab, or you would know that for decades gold, as well as other "precious metals" (Ag, Pt, etc.) have been, until recently, controlled more closely than plutonium. Try again with your rabble rousing.

Okay, let me try again. We'll start having MBAs for the precious metals. Probably more frequent inventories. Perhaps item level accounting rather then just mass.

Anonymous said...

9:24 pm: "Great. Now we at LLNL will have to start accounting for gold as though it was SNM. Thank again to our friends at LANL...."


Not to worry, You Liver morons won't have any SNM to worry about, your security already confirmed that they can't protect it.

Anonymous said...

10:54,

Kevin, dude! Is that you? Speak, boy, speak!

Good Kevin! Good!

Anonymous said...

3/31/09 9:12 PM

So did John Mitchell get caught but you have to compare it to "Wall Street" vs "Main Sreet".

Class Differerent!

Anonymous said...

BFD, security did nothing. The rad monitors busted the guy. Good grief. This fucking organization will say about anything to make themselves looks like heroes.

How about buying the slaves some water or fixing the air-conditioning in the old buildings, you selfish MF LANS assholes?

Anonymous said...

10:54 --

"Any confirmable details you'd like to share about Mitchell?"

No, LANS managed to slam a lid that particular fiasco, pronto. The number of regular staff involved was small. They were convinced that silence was the key to job security, and then Mitchell left abruptly after discovering that he had inexplicably developed an overwhelming desire to spend a bunch of time with his family. And, in the process, breaking the two year minimum stay clause of his contract that key LANS managers were required to sign. NNSA was pissed.

Anonymous said...

John Mitchell?! It must really be a slow news day. How long has it been and we still can't move on. The big money is not on a computer issue anyway. Its on Mike A. and John M. not being able to get along. Shouting became a common communication tool for them. John's departure would indicate that Mike won.

Anonymous said...

3/31/09 10:51 PM

You and other turds like you are the reason the weapons labs are in so much trouble.Congress is sick and tired of your "my shit doesn't stink" attitude. Now get back to work.

Anonymous said...

"You and other turds like you are the reason the weapons labs are in so much trouble. Congress is sick and tired of your "my shit doesn't stink" attitude. Now get back to work." - 7:35 AM

Thanks for those kind words, Mr. D'Agostino. Heckavajob!

Anonymous said...

Rumor is that other gold is missing. What if this was just the time he finally got caught? Note that gold in the glove boxes is no tracked and is taken off the books (or so I am told).

Golly, I hope Fort Knox is not contaminated as that would really bust the LANS annual bonus.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, maybe that guy works for Goldfinger.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the so called HRP suppose to help identify these individuals? Or are we just wasting a lot of money on this program?

Anonymous said...

Great. Now we at LLNL will have to start accounting for gold as though it was SNM. Thank again to our friends at LANL....

Keep in mind that this incident occurred during the watch of our fearless and good-looking former Lawrence Livermore "leaders" implementing all their procedures and policies here at LANS. By the way, LLNS = LANS were all in this together, it's all the same cluster.

Anonymous said...

10:59 am: "Isn't the so called HRP suppose to help identify these individuals? Or are we just wasting a lot of money on this program?"

DING DING DING DING DING !!! We have a winner ladies and gentlemen!!!! Hint: Wen Ho Lee was not on drugs.

Anonymous said...

HRP does nothing to stop dishonest people, or those who like to steal shit. It does, however, stop people who smoke pot and don't harm society in any meaningful way.

Anonymous said...

8:25, nor was he on HRP, so what exactly is your point here?

Anonymous said...

Point is that HRP would not have caught the most serious, and successful, spy at LANL since Greenglass. HRP is a Mormon joke on LANL.

Anonymous said...

Right... and HRP wasn't designed to catch spies. It was designed to catch people who might present a hazard to themselves or others while handling nuclear materials or nuclear explosives.

You want to catch spies, use a counterintelligence program, not a personnel assurance program.

Anonymous said...

7:19 pm: "HRP wasn't designed to catch spies. It was designed to catch people who might present a hazard to themselves or others while handling nuclear materials or nuclear explosives."

Right, so why are ALL cleared employees now subject (randomly) to piss testing? In case they happen across some Pu or a nuclear weapon?